Everybody looks to find remedies, regimens, topical solutions, and healthy eating habits in order to improve their skin, body, and overall quality of life. And it’s not just women and men in their 50s, 60s, or older — it has become more popular than ever to start maintaining one’s healthy skin, glow, body weight, and flexibility in our 20s and 30s, too.
We are lucky to know a lot more about how yoga and meditation affects the human body. From staving off health issues, lowering blood pressure, helping with cardio, improving lung function, decreasing stress, improving blood flow, detoxifying the body, increasing flexibility, aiding in rehab and relieving existing pain, lowering depression — the list goes on.
With this knowledge, scientists are looking into the specifics of how yoga physically improves the body — for example, the skin. Most everybody has had issues with their skin, from adult acne, extended acne that never seems to go away, blemishes, rough spots, sun spots, dryness, circulation problems, or simply aging.
The great thing about yoga and having better skin health is that the practice of yoga helps to improve your skin health through interior bodily functions, which are a result of exercise and other physical benefits one receives through the practice of yoga and meditation.
Exercise has a ton of health benefits anyways, from helping with weight loss or maintenance, increasing energy levels, better moods, better cardiovascular health, and more. However, many people look past how exercise and yoga can actually improve the health of your skin as you age.
Better Skin Health: Basic Tips
In order to protect your skin on a daily basis, you may know that basic lifestyle tips can make a huge difference. Wearing moisturizer and SPF 30 sunscreen year-round will help to limit the negative effects of UV rays — even on cloudy days, your skin is exposed over time and before you can notice the effects, your skin could be damaged beyond repair as you age.
It is also extremely important to drink enough water. A good rule is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water. Obviously, you will kill yourself with the impossible task of drinking your body weight in water. For example, if you’re 160 pounds, try drinking around 80 ounces of water (that’s around 10 cups) daily. Remember, our bodies are like the Earth — they are mostly made up of water, and nothing needs it more than our organs, including the largest organ of all — our skin.
Beyond the easy tasks of hydration and topical solutions to protect your skin on a daily basis, for goodness sakes, get enough sleep. Writing this, I already know I’m being hypocritical. It is really hard to get all of your work done during the weekdays and even weekends, and even harder to get enough restful sleep. Work, family, children, commitments, recreation, and other responsibilities typically take the front seat.
While it may seem hard for many to get to sleep and actually sleep for a full 8 hours (this is the recommended amount), this is where the good news comes in. In addition to all of the other health benefits that yoga offers, yoga and meditation also helps many with being able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep. When you get enough sleep, you will see that the rest you get shows on your face and skin.
In addition, diet is always important. However you choose to eat and diet (we prefer to think of it as a stable way of healthy eating rather than a crash diet), try to build it up with Omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables (rich in Vitamin C), and other foods that are great for skin health, complexion, and hydration.
Tips for Superior Skin Health: Yoga and Exercise
Now we get to yoga!
Committing to the tips above are some basic everyday things you can do in order to maintain your skin health and hydration — protecting your skin every day from the sun and wind and dry condition is obvious — but exercise and yoga really have so many positive effects on your skin and body.
As we age, the outer protective layer of our skin become thicker and drier, while the layer of skin underneath starts to thin and lose elasticity — this can give your skin a crepe or saggy looking appearance. In order to combat this as you age, exercise and/or yoga is key.
The practice of yoga and exercise helps your blood to flow more efficiently and your skin will receive the nutrients it needs. By doing so, it can repair damage from environmental pollutants and the sun much easier and more efficiently. Yoga also reduces inflammation in your body and helps to produce the important collagen — a protein that is integral to keeping your skin firm, supple (hydrated), and healthy in order to prevent wrinkles and saggy skin. Yoga and working out also helps to work up a sweat — this seems like it would be counter productive to your skin, but it’s not. Sweating flushes out trapped oil and dirt that lie in the skin. It actually cleanses your skin from the inside out.
Regular yoga improves not only your circulation, flexibility, breathing, and stress levels, but it improves digestion as well. When you eat healthy and have a good digestive tract, you are doing more to improve your body from the inside out, and are ensuring that your body can better absorb nutrients your skin needs. In addition, having better blood flow from practicing yoga gives your skin a natural glow.
By sweating out damaging toxins and dirt and oils, you are exercising your body, detoxifying your skin; and by practicing yoga, you are mindful, improving breathing, reducing stress and inflammation, and are actively ridding yourself of dull skin.
Poses for Improved Skin Health
Now that you know a little about how yoga improves one’s skin health, it will make more sense how certain yoga poses can increase blood circulation and therefore, improve your skin.
Twist postures are amazing for improving digestion and detoxifying your body, which removes harmful substances from your organs. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and during yoga — the twist positions and the detoxification benefits of water will combine to help clear waste and toxins from your body — and we know that this gives you better and more vibrant skin.
Standing Forward Fold
The uttanasana, or standing forward fold, is a nice and gentle inversion that reverses gravity’s effects on aging. One of the best positions to enhance your skin health and plump out wrinkles are inversion poses like this one.
They increase the blood flow to your face and delivers nutrients and oxygen to your body, which fights inflammation, free radicals, and toxins that cause aging skin. So, let your head hang (for safe intervals), close your eyes, breathe, and know that you are helping your body, mind, and your skin get to a healthier place.
Headstands and Shoulder Stands
Now, head and shoulder stands are not always the easiest thing to do, especially for older individuals, those new to yoga, or both. However, sirasana does something similar to inversion positions like the standing forward fold above, and gives you increased nutrients, blood, and oxygen flow to your face — free facelift!
A shoulder stand is a more beginner-friendly and effective pose of inversion. This will give your body a boost by inverting the pull of gravity and getting the blood and nutrients in your body where they need to be. It also reduces stress by relaxing your body and improving your concentration.
Finally, back bends (such as the fish pose or wheel pose), allows blood to flow through your neck and into your face — as your neck and spine are arched back in these positions, they are energizing and help oxygen get throughout your body. Chest openers are also a great and energizing way of improving your skin and oxygen levels.
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